2023 is already brimming with opportunities and looming threats to businesses around the world. Worries about the possibility of an economic recession in particular are keeping many up at night. However, some businesses are realizing that one of the most effective ways to prepare for tough times is by harnessing the power of business agility.
From making teams more nimble and responsive to creating more attractive working environments to bring in new talent, the advantages business agility offers are exceptionally well-suited to the kinds of challenges businesses face in 2023. Whether your competition is already using Agile or not, it’s becoming an increasingly vital tool for staying competitive.
Challenges Facing Businesses in 2023
Understanding why Agile holds such a unique appeal at this moment starts with understanding the kinds of challenges businesses are facing today.
Possible Economic Downturns
The possibility of an economic recession in the US has shot up recently, creating great anxiety for business leaders everywhere. The 2008 financial crisis and accompanying recession alone cost the global economy $2 trillion. While a recession in 2023 isn’t guaranteed, it is clear that businesses need to be prepared for that possibility. These difficulties are also compounded by the first case of persistently high inflation in the US in decades, creating yet more uncertainty for businesses wondering how to adjust prices, salaries, investments, and more.
Increasing Demands for Talent
At the same time as business leaders are trying to plan for a possible downturn, they’re struggling to find the talent they desperately need. Whether you’re looking for highly specialized technical talent or a brilliant sales manager, that task is getting more and more difficult as fewer applicants have the skills companies need and many companies struggle with retention problems.
The overall scale of the global tech talent shortage is truly staggering. Korn Ferry estimated it will amount to 85 million people by 2030. That many unfulfilled positions will cost the global economy around $8.5 trillion. This highlights the need for business leaders to find creative ways to attract, train, and retain talent to remain competitive.
Greater Demands from Customers/Clients
The reality that customers and clients are demanding greater personalization, increased security, and better overall experiences isn’t new. But the aforementioned talent shortages will mean that many companies will likely struggle to meet those demands in the coming year. To survive and thrive, businesses will need to both understand and meet the increasingly high expectations of their customers and clients.
Supply Chain Difficulties
Talent shortages exacerbated by China’s struggles to deal with Covid have led to worries about manufacturing issues causing disruptions in global supply chains as millions of Chinese workers are unable to work in factories and port facilities due to illness. While the Covid-19 pandemic did push many companies to craft more flexible and responsive supply chains, the new challenges presented by 2023 will still cause difficulties.
These four challenges alone create an immense amount of uncertainty for business leaders as they enter 2023. This makes it all the more clear why Agile ways of working hold so much appeal, as they empower teams and entire organizations to more quickly and efficiently adapt to changing circumstances.
Why Agile Empowers Businesses to Tackle Those Challenges
You can bundle the four major challenges listed above into two overarching categories: those demanding greater flexibility and those demanding better quality. Companies need to be more flexible and adaptive to handle supply chain issues and generally bad economic conditions. They need to improve the quality of their workplaces and the products/services they offer to attract talent and keep customers happy.
Fortunately, business agility addresses both.
Faster and More Responsive Planning
One thing preventing many businesses from considering Agile is the persistent myth that it doesn’t involve planning ahead. Planning is actually a critical element of business agility. The difference lies in how it’s done.
For example, annual plans are a vital way to set longer-term goals. Without them, you risk ending a year realizing that while you may have achieved many of your short-term goals, you haven’t really pushed the company toward something bigger. Yes, we should only plan in detail for the upcoming quarter or so, but there needs to be a vision in place for the whole year, especially when running an enterprise consisting of thousands of people and various lines of products/services.
On the other hand, problems arise when business leaders try to put rigid plans in place dictating what needs to happen and how it should happen. This ties the hands of teams, limiting the ways they can adapt to find the best solutions based on the realities on the ground. Teams must be able to adjust as they go. Put another way, leadership can provide the what, but the teams should provide the how. To see what this looks like in action you can read about how we apply agility to marketing planning.
This is why Agile planning makes it far easier for organizations to adjust to challenges like a supply chain disruption or an economic downturn. Instead of needing to wait months for the next major planning meeting in order to react, teams are empowered to respond to changing conditions as they go.
Better Visibility and Empowerment
If teams are going to be expected to determine how they can achieve broader organizational goals, they have to be empowered to do so. With business agility, that comes from breaking down silos and ensuring everyone has maximum visibility over who is doing what kind of work to achieve the goals of the organization.
While the problems of siloed work and poor visibility can be made far worse by the increasing trend of remote work, they can cripple co-located teams just as easily. Each time someone finds themselves stuck because they don’t have the information they need or aren’t sure what their next priority should be is a hit on organizational effectiveness.
That improved visibility starts with process and workflow visualization. Agile relies on physical or digital spaces where everything from large projects to small individual assignments is turned into cards that move through columns to show the status of that work. This makes it far easier to find information about status and get a big-picture view of who is working on what, where blockages or other problems may be occurring, and more.
It’s no wonder Agile frameworks always have process and workflow visualization at their core. Visualization empowers team members by making priorities clear, putting the information and resources needed to complete a task in one place, and allowing everyone to clearly see what’s happening.
This results in teams and team members that feel empowered to work without wondering whether they’re working on the right thing or missing information. It also enhances accountability by making it clear who is ultimately responsible for tasks and projects.
Better Working Environments
Transparency, accountability, and flexibility aren’t just essential for organizational success. They also contribute to better working environments. 72% of respondents in the latest State of Agile report said they were satisfied with the Agile practices in their company.
These numbers point to why Agile creates better workspaces. For companies worried about attracting talent, they need in an increasingly competitive environment, that translates into a critical advantage.
Other Agile practices like holding retrospectives also create regular opportunities for employee feedback. This both makes people feel heard and enables organizations to identify areas to improve everything from their working environments to their processes. For example, if one team member is getting too much work or feeling overwhelmed, Agile practices should help identify the problem and find ways to lessen their workload.
These better working conditions for employees ultimately translate into better service. When employees feel listened to and are happy and satisfied, they are more likely to provide the kind of high-quality responsive service that customers and clients increasingly expect.
To take an example from marketing, the latest State of Agile Marketing Report showed that when all teams are Agile, 72% strongly agree that it’s clear how their work contributes to the organization’s long-term success. Compare that to just 43% with traditional marketers. Agile’s focus on delivering stakeholder value helps team members feel like the work they do matters, helping them be more satisfied and offer better service.
Unlock the Power of Business Agility in 2023
You thought 2023 was a good time to hunker down and halt process improvement efforts and a bad time to invest money in training? That couldn’t be farther from the truth. This is the perfect time to train your people in the skills they’ll need to thrive in 2023. Business agility can help you address a host of major challenges you’ll likely face in the coming year.
But how can you unlock those benefits for your organization? Agile transformations are major undertakings, so it helps to start with training designed to equip you with an understanding of the fundamentals. Our Intro to Business Agility Course does just that, equipping you with the foundation you need to begin advocating for Agile within your organization.